Neck and back pain are among the most common healthcare issues that people face. According to statistics that have been published by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability. It is one of the most common reasons why people miss work. One of the tools that we use to address neck and back pain is called a facet injection. The goal of facet injections is to reduce inflammation and irritation in the facet joints of the spine.
What Are Facet Joints?
The facet joints are connections between the various bones of the spine. These joints are important because nerves leave the spinal cord and pass through these joints. Then, they travel to the rest of the body. For example, nerves go from the spinal cord to the arms, legs, and every other part of the body.
In addition, facet joints are important because they allow the spine to bend and twist. Furthermore, these joints prevent the back from slipping too far in any one direction. Finally, facet injections treat pain located at facet joints.
What Conditions Do Facet Injections Treat?
There are a few conditions that doctors treat using a facet injection. Some of the most common examples include:
- Spinal Stenosis: In spinal stenosis, the spinal canal is too small. This leads to facet joint irritation. Spinal stenosis compresses the spinal cord, leading to pain.
- Herniated Disc: If someone suffers a herniated or slipped disc, the liquid inside of the spinal discs leaks out. Then, this liquid coats the facet joints, leading to irritation.
- Spondylosis: Spondylosis develops when arthritis degrades the surfaces of the vertebrae. This includes the facet joints. A facet injection can treat pain from this condition.
Fortunately, facet injections can provide significant pain relief where other measures have failed. Doctors follow a few steps to deliver facet injections in the right location.
How Are Facet Injections Performed?
The doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of facet injections with the patient. Our doctors and nurses will answer every question before performing the procedure. A facet injection is very similar to other pain injections, such as an epidural steroid injection. The two procedures differ in the injection’s location.
First, the patient lays on the table. Then, the doctor will provide a local anesthetic to numb the area around the injection. Next, the doctor will insert the needle near the facet joint. Finally, the doctor will release the medication. The entire procedure lasts around 15 minutes.
The medication consists of two different parts. The first is a steroid that reduces irritation and inflammation. The second is an anesthetic that blunts the pain signals coming from the facet joint.
In addition, medication is designed to last for an extended period of time. Some patients enjoy weeks of pain relief. In other situations, facet injections could last for a year.
There are a few major benefits of facet injections. For example, a facet injection provides immediate pain relief that could last for weeks or months. Many patients feel better as soon as they get up from the table.
In addition, a facet injection could allow someone to return to his or her activities of daily life. Some patients might have had trouble running, walking, or even standing. With a facet injection, they can move without restriction.
Finally, a facet injection can even be used as a diagnostic test. Some patients might not know where their pain is coming from. A facet injection can be used to test whether or not the pain is coming from the facet joint.
The Risks of a Facet Injection
As with any other procedure, there are a few risks that come with facet injections. Some of the biggest risks include:
- The needle could be misplaced, leading to nerve damage; however, this is exceedingly rare
- There might be bleeding at the injection site
- There could be an injection that develops at the injection site
- Some patients could develop a headache after the procedure
Doctors are highly trained to prevent these complications from taking place.
Contact Us Today!
A facet injection can be used to treat numerous types of neck and back pain. At MidSouth Pain, we are here to help with both acute and chronic pain in all parts of the body. We prioritize using minimally invasive treatment methods to maximize benefits and minimize risks. Contact us today to learn more about this and other treatment services!